Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace | Cremorne

If you live or plan to visit Sydney, there is a suburb north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, about 10 minutes from the Sydney CBD called Cremorne that may seem like a quiet, sleepy suburb at first but is a charming little place where you can connect or reconnect with friends for something as simple as a good old fashion movie and dinner experience.

Firstly, Cremorne features a historic cinema, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Art Deco style, which began life since October 3, 1935 and restored in 1987 by its new owner, Mike Walsh, featuring a Wurlitzer pipe-organ that is played at selected film screenings. The film screenings where the pipe organ is played is usually when there is an opening night screening in the largest auditorium, The Orpheum. The last time I remember the organ being played was before the 2001: The Space Odyssey and The Grand Budapest Hotel screenings. It’s quite an interesting experience as how often do you hear or see someone play a pipe organ?

It is at the Hayden Orpheum where I’ve had some pretty unforgettable experiences, and what I mean by that is that it’s more than just a place to watch a movie - it’s a place where people can connect with other people. Here are three of my most memorable experiences over the past year in the Hayden Orpheum:

#1 Movie with Mum: It’s a great place to take your mother to the cinemas as the foyer’s walls are decorated with adoring black and white photos of 1920s – 1960s movie stars. I went with my mother to the Hayden Orpheum one evening and she could tell me without hesitation the names of all the movie stars on the wall in the foyer. Impressive. We were nearly late for a screening as we were so caught up with these pictures.

 #2 Meet the actors: On occasion, Hayden Orpheum turns back the clock and holds special events screening on some all-time favorite classic films with special guest appearance by the actors themselves. It was at the Hayden Orpheum where I met Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, the leading cast of 2001: The Space Odyssey (read my interview with them). When they were in Sydney, I also had an interesting discussion with Keir Dulea’s wife and actress, Mia Dillon, who has had various roles in Law and Order. Mia advised me she was currently working on a Noel Coward play in Connecticut called, A Song At Twilight, a play that depicts an elderly writer confronted by his former mistress with facts about his past life that he would prefer to forget. She told me it was an intense play addressing the subject of homosexuality, a topic that many would have taken great care to dodge during the 1960s.

#3 The Room. Imagine you were someone who heard nothing about this film before and you were asked along to see the film, thinking it was just another film where you would passively sit in the cinema and watch the film….and by way, you had to bring hundreds of spoons?! If you have not seen it before, I don’t want to spoil it for you. You should see it and experience it yourself. It is fair to say the film is ‘interactive’. Shock factor is about 10. Weird factor about 20. It is the worse film I’ve ever watched but one of the best experiences ever at a cinema. The film is so bad I recommend you see it. You’ll know what I mean after you see it. Hayden Orpheum has regular screenings of The Room due to its popularity. There will be a special guest appearance by Greg Sestero, one of the actors on Thursday 10 July at 7pm who will discuss his revealing, open hearted memoir - The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made and recount his experience of working with the writer and director Tommy Wiseau on The Room, the independent film that went on to become a worldwide cult phenomenon. The event will feature a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of interactive script reading and an audience Q&A session. For further details, click here.

Subscribe to the Hayden Orpheum newsletter to keep up to date on upcoming screenings and special events. The Hayden Orpheum is one of the best cinemas in Sydney.


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